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Project Projects / MATRIX 229

October 1, 2009

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History is made by living it. In the case of the MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art, a defining engagement with the present has led to quite a history—230 projects, 265 artists, 30 years.

MATRIX has changed and evolved but has always remained true to its guiding principles as an exhibition project that challenges conventions, privileges artists and their ideas, and experiments with form and content. In this vein, the new book MATRIX/Berkeley: A Changing Exhibition of Contemporary Art was conceived as a project in its own right, born in a spirit of experimentation and in collaboration with Project Projects, the design partnership of Prem Krishnamurthy and Adam Michaels. As each MATRIX project is conceived differently, our approach in making a book was to delve into the archives, to understand the entirety of the program by investigating the impulses and execution of each exhibition on its own terms. Arrayed loosely, as if spread out on a table, the book’s visual elements—ephemera, installation views, production materials—speak to the process of making each exhibition, in a collaged and anecdotal form that seemed in keeping with the kind of story we wanted to tell about MATRIX. Individually, these visual essays are compelling snapshots of their time, each a condensation of the thoughts and actions of a particular artist; in aggregate, laid side by side, they narrate an arc through thirty years of contemporary art practice. In and around them are newly commissioned interviews, some transcribed from conversations between MATRIX artists and curators past (and, in one case, future) in a series of public programs at the museum in 2008 and 2009; others were produced specifically for this book.

Project Projects is a design studio that merges print, exhibition, and interactive work with independent curatorial and publishing projects. They were named a finalist in the 2009 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Awards; other awards include I.D. magazine’s 2007 Design Distinction Award, the Art Directors Club Young Guns 5 Award, several Society of Publication Designers merit awards, and the AIGA 365 Award.

Elizabeth Thomas
Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator